Earlier this summer I decided we would begin our school year at the beginning of July. Having an early start date made sense for several reasons. The primary reason being that we’ll be adding to our number sometime in the first week of September, making me think that starting school at the same time might not be the most practical, or achievable, choice. July and August are blazing hot here in Waco anyway, so why not do some learning while we’re indoors escaping the heat?
I thought it would be fun to share our current plan, and will swing back with updates throughout the year about how things are going. You guys are down with being my accountability partners, right? Oh, good. We have had such great recommendations from friends, and I’m excited to plunge into these great curriculums and books.
Math / We are doing Math in Focus for the grade 1 year. (In case you’re wondering, I was able to piece these books together for much cheaper through Amazon.) I am terrible, horrible, no-good at math, so I think I’ll appreciate the clarity and structure of this curriculum. This was one subject where I didn’t want to hold back. Since we’re feeling out his grade level this year, I’m okay if we need to repeat this curriculum next year. We’ll go at whatever pace works for Seb.
History / We are starting with Story of the World, Volume 1, Ancient Times (SOTW). I am so excited about this curriculum. We’ll be keeping it simple by just working through the stories, foregoing the supplemental materials available. In order to immerse ourselves in the stories a little bit more, we’ll build on each chapter with picture books, videos, and some chapter books that correlate with where we are in SOTW. I am doing it this way partially because I don’t want to go overboard with what we try to cover this first semester, but also because I want to present materials that Bruno can also engage in as I hope he’ll be going through the curriculum with us.
I am quite certain that Seb’s beloved D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths will be making a strong reappearance when we get around to Ancient Greece.
Science/Nature studies / We have enrolled Seb in a Friday morning co-op where he will be taking three classes starting in September. One of them is a science class, so I am taking it easy with my science curriculum. We plan to spend some good old-fashion time observing nature, and will be reading through The Burgess Bird Book For Children to start. I hope to add some additional nature books, but we’re starting simple, and leaving room for Seb’s interests to guide us.
Reading and Writing / Last year we tried Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but Seb lost interest 1/4 of the way through and the lessons became burdensome for him. His skills definitely improved, but I was looking to go in a different direction this year and give him a fresh start and a fresh approach. We are going to start with Reading Lessons through Literature Level 1, which I think will work really well for us. The approach is a straight-forward, phonics focused program with a low-pressure vibe. Something that works, but doesn’t intimidate or overwhelm Sebastian is what I was looking for, and I think we may have found it with this one.
Spiritual growth / We’ll be reading bible stories to compliment our history program, doing weekly scripture memory, and will be working through memorizing The Nicene Creed. I don’t know how long it will take for us to memorize the Nicene Creed, but after that, we’ll move onto other parts of the liturgy. For Bruno, I want to help him gain confidence in The Lord’s Prayer and The Doxology, specifically. He is familiar with them, but he needs a lot of encouragement in order to participate with us in saying them out loud.
Language / One of Seb’s morning co-op classes is Spanish. This kid has big language goals and he has been setting his sights on Spanish for a while now. I know he’ll love this class. Plus, there’s no way I’m teaching him Spanish right now! German is my jam, as you know. In order to work more on building the boys’ vocabulary, we’ll have a set of vocab cards on different topics for each week. For example, we’ll work on playground vocabulary one week and be intentional about going to playgrounds, reviewing the words on our list, and making note of playground words we don’t know so that we can add them to our list. We’ll also work our way through some of our German books with greater regularity.
Arts / Seb’s 3rd co-op class is music! At home we’ll be working through memorizing a few poems, learning a few hymns, and engaging in some handwork. The boys will continue to have time and opportunity for coloring, drawing and painting.
Literature / We are not going to follow a set literature curriculum, although this is the one we would choose. This was a tough decision for me, but I knew that our literature studies would not suffer because this is the subject that comes most naturally to me. At this age, literature is mostly reading and engaging with stories. We are already doing that, and I didn’t want a specific program to choke out the flexibility we currently enjoy with our book choices. I hope that it will make sense to add a literature curriculum soon, but I am holding back at the start. So what exactly are we going to read? We will employ our local library as usual and work from the FIAR book list specifically as a resource for seasonal stories. We will also work from my list of chapter books I’d like to introduce this year.
Since we just began Little House in the Big Woods, we will continue, and work through the rest of the series at whatever pace works for us. We are due to begin The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but both boys were displaying a bit of resistance every time I suggested we begin. I took the cue that we needed to let Narnia rest for a little bit. We will reintroduce it this Fall or Spring. Additionally, Mr. Popper’s Penguins will make an appearance this winter, and The Wind in the Willows this Spring. There are dozens of other books I’d like to see us read, but I am keeping our goals at the outset small so that I don’t ever feel like I need to rush the boys through in order to get to the next thing on our list. I want these stories to become a part of their imaginations and stick with them, encouraging and nurturing in them a love of reading and adventure. My sister just gifted Sebastian vintage copies of Winnie-the-Pooh, and The House at Pooh Corner that she found at a bookstore in Ireland. Seb was skeptical, but after reading a few of Pooh’s poems to him, he was suddenly captivated. He marched around the apartment chanting “Cottleston, cottleston, cottleston pie!” over and over again. I have been trying to get them interested in A.A. Milne’s classics for a while now, but it never takes. I now have my sister to thank for the delightful addition to our reading list!
You may be wondering how we plan to accomplish all of this. I confess I wonder this as well. The best plan I have right now is to take each subject in 15 minute portions. We will do 15 minutes of math, history, and reading/writing every day. We will also read aloud every day. Our other subjects will be 2-3 times a week activities. Some days will be heavy on the nature study side of things because of a half-day spent at the Waco Wetlands. Other days when the boys are particularly focused, we’ll expand our history discussion, read-aloud for a full hour or more, draw, color and sing songs.
I am committed to three things as we venture earnestly into our homeschool journey:
1) To be consistent with small portions of time each day, and 2) To inspire in my kids a love of learning. If it takes an entire week to get through one days math lesson joyfully, then so be it. I am not going to push Seb to progress at a certain pace because of a schedule or deadlines or to make myself feel better about our homeschooling journey. And 3) to continue to prioritize learning through play. We will still spend lots of time climbing at the park, playing in water outside, and building with LEGOS at home. I think the introduction of a few more structured academic activities will only nurture his curiosity and give him new tools to engage with the world in new and deeper ways. Our homeschooling journey will spark in him new questions to ask, and provide the brain-nutrients, if you will, that he is craving.
I’d love to hear about your journey homeschooling or preparing to homeschool your children! In other words, give me all the tips.
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